Nearly 2.5 million visitors each year come to see the largest collection in the world of impressionist artwork, found in the ... More
Nearly 2.5 million visitors each year come to see the largest collection in the world of impressionist artwork, found in the splendid Musée d'Orsay. The building itself, called the Gare d'Orsay, was built for the World's Fair of 1900. During World War II, it was used to welcome freed prisoners. Once the train station (the Gare) fell into disuse and the adjacent hotel closed down in 1973, the building was threatened with demolition. However, it was decided to transform the building's function to house a collection of art from the second half of the 19th Century. It was inaugurated in 1986 under the governance of François Mitterrand. The principal gallery of the ground floor, 138 meters long (453 feet) and 32 meters tall (105 feet), is a reminder of the building's history. Among the masterpieces in this gallery are the scandalous Un enterrement à Ornans by Gustave Courbet and the Glaneuses by Jean-François Millet. Fans of impressionism should head directly up to the fifth floor, where works by the greatest masters of this genre are hung in galleries 29 to 48. These include La classe de danse by Degas, Still Lifes by Manet such as L'Asperge, Bal du moulin de la Galette by Renoir, and La gare Saint-Lazare, La cathédrale de Rouen, or the Nymphéas by Claude Monet. Works by Van Gogh in gallery 35 and Cézanne in 36 follow, the small galleries 37 and 38 contain pastels by Degas, and galleries 43-44 are devoted to Gauguin's paintings of Tahiti. Decorative arts are located a few flights down, worth visiting notably for the impressive collection of Art Nouveau. While on this floor, don't miss the Terrasse Rodin, where L'Homme qui marche is located. For a short rest to help absorb this astonishing collection, visit the Cafe des Hauteurs on the third floor or the restaurant on the sixth floor. Also don't forget to check out the beautiful Hotel Le Bellehasse, walking distance from here.
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